Elise DeMarzo, Manager of the Palo Alto Public Art Commission (PA PAC), has finally disclosed the costs of the artists' proposals for the California Avenue fountain. The commission had originally refused to reveal the price of the fountain proposals because they didn't want to sway the public vote.
Why shouldn't fountain costs be part of the voting equation? The two modern fountain proposals by Szabo and Oldland were quoted at $49,198 and $46,050, respectively. The Madden/Reed fountain proposal, which offers a green choice by recycling and revitalizing the original Cal Ave fountain, will cost $35,000, about 30 percent less than the other two proposals.
The commission, along with the California Avenue Area Development Association (CAADA), tried to replace the original fountain with the very modern Bruce Beasley sculpture. Public outcry kept that from happening. The commission said they will "consider" the pubic vote when they make their final decision on which of the three fountains will reside on California Avenue. Which one do you think they will pick?
Jan St. Peter
Watching the coop
Palo Alto has a first-class new mayor in Sid Espinosa which raises hopes for some real infrastructure changes in our city in the new year. Both Sid and Vice Mayor Yiaway Yeh have the ability to move the city in a positive direction.
There are a couple clouds over this leadership change that we will have to watch with an open mind:
1.) Both Sid and Yiaway received significant campaigns funds from the South Bay Labor Council, and so their independence on union issues needs to be watched carefully.
2.) On an important union vote, Sid was a no-show at the council meeting, leaving Yiaway to cast the lone vote in support of the union position. This was contrary to Mayor Pat Burt's noble efforts to restore some rationale to the city-employee benefits structure.
Residents, while we stand in support of our new leaders, please keep your eyes open. We might expect to see proposals such as limiting city vendors to "prevailing wage" contractors as early indicators of union paybacks. (Prevailing Wage law has nothing to do with "fair wages" but feeds into a statutory formula that creates an upward spiral on the cost of municipal projects.)
Just remember, the entire city operations are smaller than most of the companies that residents work for. We just need to watch the chicken coop to make sure there isn't a fox disguised as a rooster or hen.
With hope that this caution is unwarranted. Let the hard work begin. We are watching.
Get rid of rail?
Editor, It is time for the political leaders and residents in the cities between Santa Clara and Brisbane to tell the California High Speed Rail Authority goodbye and good riddance.
The high-speed rail-project will provide very limited benefits to the people of the Peninsula while at the same time causing a massive disruption during its construction.
It was not too many years ago that the residents of San Francisco demanded the elevated Embarcadero freeway be torn down. It was torn down because the residents and politicians thought it was an eyesore, hurt property values and blocked their view of San Francisco Bay.
The politicians of Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angles and the High Speed Rail Authority think it is OK to build this massive eyesore in our neighborhood.
A more reasonable route would be for high-speed rail to follow the Union Pacific's rail lines in the East Bay, These rail lines run mostly through industrial areas. Downtown San Francisco can be served by an interchange with BART in Oakland.
Don't let them destroy our neighborhoods to satisfy their egos. The high-speed rail system, with its massive construction costs, is almost certainly going to be a money pit. Government projects of this size, rarely if ever come in on budget. If this project had an even chance of making money, private venture capital and industry would be standing in line to get a piece of it.
John S. McKenna